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In January, 1811, another battle was fought, at the bridge of Calderon, near Guanajuanto, in which the insurgents were utterly defeated, and their leaders with the remnant of their forces retreated to Saltillo. Two months later, while preparing to visit the United States for the purpose of purchasing arms and ammunition for a future attempt, Hidalgo and his principal associates were betrayed by one of their own number into the hands of the Spaniards. The rebel chief had little mercy to expect from his captors: he was shot in the month of July following.
After the death of Hidalgo, most prominent among the revolutionists appeared . Rayon, one of his companions in arms, and the distinguished Morelos, also an ecclesiastic. A year passed away in disturbance and uncertainty, but without any very important military operations. There was no longer a powerful and concentrated body of armed rebels to excite the terror of the friends of the government, but the seditious and independent spirit awakened by what had already passed, was constantly on the increase. A junta was formed at Zitacuaro, then in possession of the insurgents, in September, 1811, and negotiations were vainly opened with the viceroy, Venegas, for the purpose of a peaceful settlement of the government It was proposed to offer the throne of Mexico to the disgraced king of Spain, and to establish a government independent of the old country so long as the latter should remain subject, in effect, to foreign dominion.
These overtures were received with utter contempt, and with the commencement of the year 1812, hostilities were renewed on a larger scale. After pushing his way triumphantly until within a few miles of the city of Mexico, Morelos established himself at Cuautia de Amilpas in the “tierra caliente,” to await the expected attack of the government forces, under Calleja. That energetic officer, after seizing upon Zitacuara, from which the revolutionary council, or junta, escaped by a timely flight, and but hering a great number of its inhabitants, marched against Morelos, and laid siege to Cuautla. All supplies being cut off, nothing remained for the besieged but flight, as little was to be hoped from a pitched battle.
This retreat, which took place at the beginning of May, 1812, proved but the commencement of a series of brilliant successes. Morelos made his head-quarters at Oaxaca, and with little difficulty extended his authority throughout the province. Acapulco was taken in August, 1813. In the month of November following, a congress, consisting of the members of the former junta, together with deputies from the conquered or revolutionized province of Oaxaca, convened at Chilpanzingo, and openly made declaration of the independence of Mexico.
The bright prospects of the insurgents were, however, soon clouded. Morelos, having undertaken an expedition against Valladolid, was defeated by the government troops under Llano and the celebrated Agustin de Iturbide; his bravest and most trust-worthy associates in the revolutionary movement, Don Miguel Bravo, Galeana, and Matamoros, perished in battle, or by the hands of the executioner; and the new congress, like the junta at Zitacuaro, was driven from its temporary capital. Oaxaca was rēconquered by the government. The brave and devoted Morelos was taken prisoner, and shot about the close of the year 1815.
From this period until the espousal of the patriotic cause by Iturbide, in February of 1821, however the revolutionary spirit may have spread among the masses of the people, outward demonstration was of little avail. The power of the royalists was established throughout the greater portion of the country, and the military chieftains who still maintained a hostile attitude, unable to unite their forces, were content to maintain their position as best they might in the different districts where they were stationed. In Ward's Mexico, the following summary is given of the position of the principal insurgent leaders subsequent to the death of Morelos: "Guerrero occupied the west coast, where he maintained himself until the year 1821, when he joined Iturbide. Rayon commanded in the vicinity of Tlalpujahua, where he successively maintained two fortified camps on the Cerra del Gallo and on Coporo. Teran held the district of Tehuacan in Puebla. Bravo was a wanderer throughout the country. The Bajio was tyrannized over by the Padre Torres, while Guadalupe Victoria occupied the important province of Vera Cruz.”
The officer last mentioned had done good service to the cause of the patriots under Morelos, and in after-times filled the first office of the republic. At the dark period of which we are now speaking, he was reduced to the last extremity by the persecution of the royal'ists. Deserted by his few remaining followers, and of too incorrupt. ible a spirit to be seduced from tbe cause to which he had devoted himself, he was compelled to seek safety by a solitary life in the wilderness. He "departed for the mountains, where he wandered for thirty months, living on the fruits of the forest, and gnawing the bones of dead animals found in their recesses. Nor did he emerge from this impenetrable concealment until two faithful Indians, whom he had known in prosperous days, sought him out with great difficulty; and, communicating the joyous intelligence of the revolution of 1821, brought him back once more to their villages, where he was received with enthusiastic reverence, as a patriot raised from the dead."*
The most interesting events of the year 1817 are those connected with the gallant but unprofitable career of Xavier Mina, a Spanish adventurer, who, with a small force, espoused the cause of the Mexican revolution. After various successes, he was taken prisoner, and shot in the month of November of the same year.
CHAPTER X X.
ESPOUSAL OP THE CAUSE OF INDEPENDENCE BY ITURBIDE.-
SPANISH ATTEMPTS AT RECONQUEST.
UNDER the viceroyalty of Don Juan Ruiz de Apodaca, the sixtyfirst Spanish governor of Mexico, the prospects of the revolutionists were so unfavourable, that a convenient opportunity appeared to be presented for the restoration of the ancient system of absolute tyranny. Certain franchises and a partial representation had been secured to the people by the provisions of the constitution promulgated by the Spanish Cortes in 1812: in endeavouring to annul these privileges, and to röestablish the irresponsible and unchecked power of royalty, Apodaca only hastened the final overthrow of Spanish rule in Mexico.
Agustin de Iturbide, as being a gallant and efficient soldier, and thoroughly favourable to the royal cause, was selected to assume
* Mexico, Aztec, Spanish, and Republican, by Brantz Mayer.
the command of the western provinces, and at the same time 10 proclaim the king's absolute authority, and to put an end to the constitutional system. The views of Iturbide had, however, under. gone a great change since his successful campaign against the patriots; and he only accepted the high office conferred upon him, the more efficiently to carry out his own secret purposes. These were first made known by his celebrated proclamation, issued at the town of Iguala, where he was encamped in the month of February, 1821, on his march westward. The "plan of Iguala," as this manifesto was termed, contained, among other provisions, the following bold and comprehensive declaration, as given by Mr. Mayer in his history of Mexico:
“ ARTICLE I.— The Mexican nation is independent of the Spanish nation, and of
every other, even on its own continent. “Art. II.-Its religion shall be the Catholic, which all its inhabitants profess. “Art. III.—They shall all be united, without any distinction between Americans
and Europeans. -"ART. IV.—The government shall be a constitutional monarchy.”
A junta was to be formed, under the presidency of the existing viceroy, by which a congress should be convoked; Ferdinand VII., or, in default of his acceptance, one of his brothers, was to be invited to the throne; public officers of every grade, who should profess themselves in favour of independence, were to be continued in office, while banishment, “without taking with them their families and effects," awaited non-conformist officials; and in support of these principles an army was to be formed, to be called “the Army of the Three Guaranties,” viz: “Independence, the maintenance of Roman Catholicity, and Union.”
Iturbide's little army of eight hundred men readily embarked in his enterprise, and, marching to the western coast, he effected a union with Guerrero and his insurgent forces. The revolutionists throughout Mexico, with singular unanimity, espoused the cause of the new popular leader, eager to secure independence of Spain upon any terms, and hopeless of carrying out their designs for individual liberty in the then present posture of affairs. Apodaca exhibited no energy or determination in a crisis which called for vigorous action, and the Spanish portion of the population of the capital seized upon him, and threw him into confinement, as being unfit for his responsible office.
His successor, Juan O'Donoju, found the great mass of the people eager in support of Iturbide. That successful general made proposi. tions to the viceroy for a peaceful adoption of his own scheme by treaty; and as nothing remained subject to Spanish dominion, except the city of Mexico and the strong fortress of San Juan de Ulloa, his offers were accepted. The capital was surrendered in the month of September (1821), and a temporary junta, with Iturbide at its head, proceeded to enter upon the duties of government; the new congress met on the 24th of the ensuing February.
This body, composed as it was of conflicting elements, soon fell into great disorder. The republicans were impatient of the monarchical provisions of the new system; the constitutionalists were no less opposed to any innovation; while a strong party, carried away by enthusiasm for their leader, aimed at nothing less than his elevation to the supreme authority. The latter faction ultimately prevailed, and by an irregular and violent demonstration proclaimed Iturbide emperor of Mexico.
Assuming the title of Agustin the First, he commenced his brief reign in the month of May, 1822, and such was the prēpossession in his favour, as being the one to whom was chiefly due the independence of the nation, that, with wise and judicious government, he might perhaps have gained over all his enemies. He proved, how. ever, to be unfitted for power. He interfered forcibly with the decisions of the congress; and in a few months after his accession to the throne, dissolved that body, substituting an assembly of his own nomination.
The Mexican people were ill-prepared, by a successful revolution, to submit to a mere change of tyrants. Disaffection spread rapidly, and soon ripened into open revolt. General Garza, in the North, Santa Anna, who was governor of Vera Cruz, and other notable officials headed the insurrection. The emperor was forced to succumb, and in March, 1823, abdicated the throne, and left the country in a vessel provided by the members of the former congress, whom he had convened for the purpose of tendering his resignation. The leaders of the new revolution took possession of the city of Mexico, and proceeded to rëorganize the government.
"Victoria, Bravo, and Negrete," says Mayer, “entered the capital on the 27th of March, and were chosen by the old congress, which quickly rëassembled, as a triumvirate to exercise supreme executive powers antil the new congress assembled in the following August. In October, 1824, this body finally sanctioned the federal constitution,